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What’s happened to the Daily Mail? – DC's Improbable Science

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The Daily Mail has always been notorious for its stories that advocate unproven and disproved treatments, but are they now getting converted to reason?

Recently the Daily Mail published an excellent piece based on comments by Michael Baum. “Homeopathy is worse than witchcraft (1st May 2007).

Now (31 July 2007) it has another good article by Angela Epstein “How to find your way through the herbal medicine jungle”

“According to Professor Ernst the beneficial effects of the majority of herbals are totally unproven.

“For instance, research has shown there is no effective herbal remedy for cancer, diabetes, weight loss, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, asthma, hangover, hepatitis and many other conditions.”

There will always be anecdotal evidence which confounds the results of a clinical trial.

For example, the University of Exeter and the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital carried out a clinical trial on arnica – a popular remedy derived from the Leopard’s bane plant used for healing bumps and bruises.”

Just one problem with this article. At the end it says

“If you want to see an alternative practitioner, find one through their governing body as these organisations exist to maintain high standards of practice and patient care. “

And it gives the phone number of the Society of Homeopaths. The Society of Homeopaths exists largely to promote the business of homeopathy. It’s about the last place you’d want to go to findout the truth. Why do journalists never recommend organisations that would give a more truthful account?

One must never forget that quackery is very big business. In the UK sales of “complementary” treatments in 2007 alone are expected to be £191 million (Mintel Market Research) and that is predicted to grow to £250 million by 2011.

Postscript

Still more amazing, Melanie Phillips in the Daily Mail (6 August 2007). has some complimentary words for Richard Dawkins’ TV programme, The Age of Unreason.

“In a TV programme to be shown later this month, Dawkins looks at a range of ludicrous therapies and gurus, including faith healers, psychic mediums, ‘angel therapists’, ‘aura photographers’, astrologers and others. Not surprisingly, he is horrified by such widespread irrationality, not to mention an exploitative industry that fleeces people while encouraging them to run away from reality.

He is right to be alarmed. What previously belonged to the province of the quack and the charlatan has become mainstream. The NHS provides funding for shamans, while the NHS Directory for Alternative and Complementary Medicine promotes ‘dowsers’, ‘flower therapists’ and ‘crystal healers’. “

Phillips does return to form later, by failing to understand the case against creationist, but nevertheless, not bad at all.

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3 Responses to What’s happened to the Daily Mail?

  • And what pray has homeopathy to do with herbalism? Still, I suppose the Daily Wail is at the foot of the learning curve, so we had better make some allowances.

  • In my experience, many people regard herbal remedies as being a type of homeopathic remedy. Most depressing, when one is trying to argue how/why homeopathic remedies are no such thing, and, indeed, that many herbal remedies should be view with similar scepticism.

  • The converse is also true, Mat. I have found that quite a few people who ask me about “homeopathy” mean ” treatment with herbal remedies” rather than “treatment with infinitely dlilute nothing, aka sugar pills”.

    As DC has pointed out, herbal remedies typically do have biological active substances in them, so have some basis for biological effects. But “herbal extracts” is roughly where medicine and pharmacy was at the end of the 18th century – no clear basis for dosing, no reproducibility, no reliable evidence on how much of what worked for what things, etc etc.

    One would like to think we have progressed a bit scientifically since then.

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